July 16, 2004 | By Donna Wentworth

Ensuring Election Integrity Is Not a Partisan Issue

By Cindy Cohn

Over the past week we've seen several media stories suggesting that the electronic voting machine issue is partisan.

While there are certainly folks who would like to portray it that way, including Jeb Bush and unfortunately last week, the Washington Post, it's not true. Far more importantly, it's not true in terms of who should care.

In a recent court case, EFF presented evidence (PDF) of 18 serious direct recording electronic (DRE) problems over the past two years, and in the majority of the cases that we've seen, electronic voting systems don't fail in any partisan way -- they just fail. And given the many ways that they can be cracked, no political party has a "lock" on programmers who could sway an election.

It's especially puzzling to see this "partisan" spin emerge now, in the face of a number of Republican and bipartisan efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections:

  • Senator John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada, is sponsoring the leading Senate bill to establish a voter-verified paper ballot (VVPB). He has been a stalwart on these issues since long before most of us even thought about them.
  • The National Federation of Republican Women supports the use of paper trail machines.
  • Representative Rush Holt's (D-NJ) bill, HR 2239, has bipartisan co-sponsorship, and chapters of political parties from across the spectrum have endorsed it.
  • Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute endorses VVPB, and EFF has been working with several other conservative groups on the issue.
  • Just today, EFF helped a bipartisan group of voters in California's Riverside County in an ongoing effort to recount electronic votes in a very close election. While the race itself was nonpartisan, the candidate demanding the recount, Linda Soubirous, is not left-wing.

When e-voting is dismissed as partisan, voters from both parties lose. Election integrity is far too important an issue to be sidetracked by this diversion. And when the media falls for this sort of spin, they fall into the hands of people who want to push the very real problems with electronic voting back under the rug.

For additional information, see this report by Voters Unite! (PDF) and EFF's Verify the Vote campaign.

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